President Muhammadu Buhari will soon receive a report of a presidential committee constituted to advise him on the reopening of the nation’s land borders, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, said.
Given the current state of the economy with rising inflation and recession, the Government may be compelled to reopen the boders that were shut since August 2019.
Following a contraction of 3.62 percent in its Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in the third quarter of 2020, Nigeria has slipped into recession once again.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which made the disclosure on Saturday, said this is the second consecutive quarterly GDP decline since the recession of 2016.
According to the agency, the cumulative GDP for the first nine months of 2020, therefore, is at -2.48 percent.
The NBS report read: “Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) recorded a growth rate of –3.62% (year-on-year) in real terms in the third quarter of 2020.
Nigeria, the largest economy and the most prosperous of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) closed its land borders on account of the proliferation of illegal importation of drugs, small arms and agricultural products from neighbouring West African countries and beyond.
With an area of 923,768, Nigeria is bordered by Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger; and all of them rely heavily on Nigeria. Millions of Nigerians also use the proximity of the land borders for their businesses and other endeavours and the decision to close the borders had crippled their dealings.
The closure of the borders had also caused serious setbacks for all the countries concerned, including Ghana.
Hajiya Ahmed, while reacting to a question on when Nigerian borders would be reopened at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari, said the committee had assessed the gains of the closure.
Members of the committee are ministers of finance, budget and national planning, interior and foreign affairs.
She said once members of the committee sign the report, it would be submitted to the president.
The finance minister was, however, silent on the exact day they would submit the document and the day the borders would be reopened.
“Mr President has set up a committee that I chair, alongside the minister of foreign affairs and other ministers, including interior, customs, immigration, the security services, to review and advise him on the issue of the border closure.
“The committee has just completed its work and we will be submitting our report, I have signed my copy, I gave everybody to sign between today and tomorrow so that we submit the report to Mr President,” the minister said while fielding questions from State House reporters.
Hajiya Zainab had at a roundtable discussion at the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES #26), also gave the assurance that the borders would be reopened soon.
She had told the audience at the NES #26 that: “We have made an assessment. The president set up a committee and we have made an assessment and all the members of the committee agreed and are recommending to the president that it is time to reopen the borders.
“The objective has been met in the sense that we have been able, over these couple of months, to work together with our partners in a tripartite committee and do a joint border patrol together and reinforce the sanctity of the commitments that we made to each other. So, each side has learnt its lessons.
“Nigeria has been affecting our partners in terms of businesses that we have in Nigeria as well. So, we will be expecting that the borders will be reopened very soon. The date will be decided by Mr President,” she said.